Willis finally has a winner with 'Last Boy Scout'

On movies

December 13, 1991|By Lou Cedrone

''The Last Boy Scout'' should do it for Bruce Willis.

Willis has had a string of losers (''Bonfire of the Vanities,'' ''Hudson Hawk,'' ''Mortal Thoughts,'' ''Billy Bathgate''), so the Willis Watch has been growing, gathering speed and attention as it does. Will he ever do another successful film? Are the ''Die Hard'' films going to be the length and breadth of his movie career?

Well, ''The Last Boy Scout'' may not be perfect, but it moves like thunder, has a number of laughs and entertains during all of its 97-minute running time. It should do well at the box office.

There are, however, some negative things about it. The violence isn't quite comic book. It approaches comic book but doesn't quite get there -- so when an innocent man becomes one of the casualties, the film loses some of its comic steam.

It loses more steam when Willis' on-screen daughter becomes involved in this violent horseplay. She's only about 13, and a girl this young should not be used for either thrill or comic effect in any film.

Aside from these gaffs, however, ''The Last Boy Scout'' is both fast and funny, a cops-and-bad-guys action comedy that plays like ''Lethal Weapon III,'' a comparison the producers apparently accept as inevitable, because they show the detective's daughter watching a ''Lethal Weapon'' film on her television screen.

Daman Wayans (''In Living Color'') plays a football player who has been barred from the field after being accused of using drugs and gambling.

As played by Wayans, James Alexander Dix is great company. As a gridiron casualty, Wayans is likable without being menacing.

When the football player's girlfriend is murdered, the detective and his new friend begin to search for the killers. As they do, they discover low dealing in very high places.

Through all this, Willis and Wayans are beaten up with alarming ** regularity.

Halle Berry is the girl Dix loves. Berry may also be seen in the current ''Strictly Business,'' as a would-be actress. Again, she impresses.

Joe Santos is a police lieutenant who finds body after body and knows who is responsible for all this.

Dick Butkus and Lynn Swann appear as sports commentators for the Los Angeles Stallions, and Bill Medley, whose ''Unchained Melody'' was given new life by ''Ghost,'' does ''Friday Night's a Great Night for Football,'' a song sung over the credits.

Well, we did say the film was close to comic book.

''The Last Boy Scout'' opens here today. It was directed by Tony Scott, who did ''Beverly Hills Cop II'' and ''Top Gun.'' The script was written

by 31-year-old Shane Black, who did the screenplay for the first ''Lethal Weapon.''

''The Last Boy Scout'' *** A seedy detective finds himself paired with an ex-football player as both look for the killers of a young woman.

CAST: Bruce Willis, Daman Wayans, Taylor Negron, Halle Berry, Joe Santos

DIRECTOR: Tony Scott

RATING: R (language, violence, sex, nudity)

( RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes

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